US Job Openings Remain Strong in September

In September, US employers posted 9.6 million job openings, a slight increase from the 9.5 million openings reported in August. These numbers indicate that the US job market remains robust, even as the Federal Reserve is working to manage economic growth.

Layoffs fell to 1.5 million in September, down from 1.7 million in August, suggesting that workers continue to enjoy a high degree of job security. The number of Americans quitting their jobs, which is often a sign of confidence in finding better opportunities, remained relatively unchanged.

While the number of job openings in September is down from the record high of 12 million in March 2022, it remains historically high. Before 2021, monthly job openings had never surpassed 8 million. Unemployment stood at 3.8% in September, just slightly above a half-century low.

The hotel and restaurant industry, which has been grappling with worker shortages since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, saw an increase of 141,000 job openings.

The Federal Reserve has been concerned about strong hiring pressuring employers to raise wages, potentially leading to higher costs and inflation. To combat inflation, the Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate 11 times since March 2022. Although inflation has decelerated from its peak in June 2022, it remains above the Fed’s 2% target, with consumer prices up 3.7% year-over-year in September.

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The combination of strong hiring, economic growth, and moderating inflation has raised hopes that the Fed can achieve a “soft landing” by raising rates to control inflation without triggering a recession. The Fed is expected to announce its decision to keep its benchmark rate unchanged in its upcoming meeting as it assesses the effects of previous rate hikes.

On Friday, the Labor Department is set to release its jobs report for October, with expectations of the addition of 189,000 jobs and an unchanged unemployment rate of 3.8%.